Charles Eason has a strong history of summer internships. His Agricultural Business Management classes gave him the technical crop science knowledge and business and financial foundations to succeed and grow through each internship. The progression of years of internships led to a job offer before graduation.
Tell us about your internships.
I interned at Reynolds American Incorporated (RAI) for two summers (2017 & 2018). I was the Leaf Operations Intern for Reynolds. My duties included learning about leaf operations roles at RAI such as grower contracts, purchasing tobacco, managing receiving stations, and international contracts and purchasing of oriental leaf. The main focus for my first summer was my project, which was to create a weather mapping system using ArcGIS software in order to analyze how weather patterns effect our yield and quality in a given crop year. My main focus for my second year was another project compiling and verifying compliance data for the Sustainable Tobacco Programme (STP) Reynolds is a part of. RAI is audited every three years as a requirement of being in STP and then scored accordingly. This is run by a company called AB Sustain. I prepared a 75-page report to assist in the audit process. These internships led to a job offer from RAI which I accepted and will be starting there in May 2019.
I did an internship at Sharp Family Farms for the 2017-2018 school year. I worked with Alan and Pender Sharp (CALS alumni) on their sweet potato pork sausage venture that they launched a couple of years ago with the help of NC State Extension. I focused on sales and marketing and was in charge of working with the Sharps and US Foods (their distributor) in order to generate new customers and strengthen current relationships. I was able to get them into the NC State dining hall and some other restaurants in the Triangle Area. I did a lot of ride alongs with US Foods Territory Managers and District Managers, meeting with executive chefs and trying to push the product.
Universal Leaf is the worlds largest independent tobacco leaf provider. I interned at Universal Leaf North America in the spring of 2017. I was shadowing leaf department personnel whose duties are similar to those within leaf operations at Reynolds American. I was in the processing facility with the main focus of learning how the leaf is processed from beginning to end. I was moved to each part of the processing facility throughout the course of a semester, in what was essentially a condensed version of what they do for their “leaf management trainees” over the course of a year or two.
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Crop Risk Services is a branch of ADM that is involved in crop insurance. I was an intern there the summer of 2016. This division is headquartered in Decatur, IL, and that is where I was based out of. I traveled every week to different regions with different crops and shadowed crop adjusters, regional managers, sales and marketing teams, auditors, and underwriters. I learned the full scope of the crop insurance industry. I had a project, which was to create a presentation detailing tobacco hail damage and to propose a new model for adjusting tobacco hail damage using drones. I was able to touch 10 different states and get experience in every part of the claim process for various crops (Tobacco, Cotton, Soybeans, Corn, etc.)
I interned at NC Crop Improvement Association the Summer of 2015. NC Crop Improvement is responsible for seed certification for registered seed, certified seed, etc. for the state of NC. We looked at a variety of different crops and conducted on-farm certifications to ensure crops that were to be used for these types of seed met their respective specifications. I was shadowing at the beginning of the summer, and by the second half, I was then actually certifying myself.
This was my first job after my freshman year of college (Summer 2014) was with Hymans Landscaping. I ran a landscaping crew for Jon Hyman, who is an Agriculture Institute Graduate.
What was your most valuable experience interning?
I would probably say the ADM internship just because it took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to enter a new environment where I didn’t know anyone, and it opened a lot of doors. It really paid off. I learned a whole lot that summer and made some great connections. I traveled and experienced different sectors of agriculture and different cultures, people, etc. It paid off when I got back here. I could tell it strengthened my resume and that people were very impressed with what I had done. It really propelled me and set off a “spark” inside of me.
How will internships help you accomplish your goals for the future?
I really feel like each internship was just a stepping stone and that each one elevated me to the next step. From my first one I was able to get the next one, and from that one I moved to the next, and so on and so forth. It has now landed me a great paying job with a great company, where I will be able to travel a lot and do something I’m passionate about. Not just that, but internships prepared me to be able to do the job well. Getting the position is the first part, then you have to be able to perform. Each internship experience has positioned me for further success and prepared me to excel in each opportunity.